The Bodytonic pub The Bernard Shaw on South Richmond Street is a Dublin success story. Having originally set up as a temporary space, the pub, event and DJ space quickly garnered a dedicated audience for itself and key to that was the beer garden out the back which has hosted some great day parties which have featured the likes of Optimo, Mr Saturday Nite, Motor City Drum Ensemble, 12 Sundays and many a local DJ collective including myself and Lumo.
Dublin is severely lacking in nice beer gardens generally, and with, one with pizza as good as the Big Blue Bus alongside it, the Beer Garden is easily among the best in Dublin.
The Shaw has stayed successful and busy, and has expanded the far side of the pub with The Eatyard, another great idea that sees a rotating selection of food vendors supply their goods in a relaxed atmosphere.
Now, the beer garden is under threat, not for the first time in its history. An Bord Pleanála has refused Bodytonic permission to continue trading in the beer garden after reapplying to Dublin City Council in October. Initially, the council granted the venue permission to retain the area for a period of three years but the decision was then appealed to An Bord Pleanála by a resident on Lennox Street, a street, located opposite the front of the building (There is currently a redevelopment underway behind the pub and beer garden that will bring offices, residential spaces, shops, offices, a restaurant, a cinema and community sports centre).
An Bord Pleanála overturned the ruling due to the appeal saying:
“On the basis of the evidence submitted with the planning application and appeal, the Board is not satisfied that the development, for which retention permission and permission for temporary continuation of use is sought, would not seriously injure the residential amenity of properties in the vicinity, by reason of noise and disturbance.”
Now, a petition asking Dublin residents to support the space and “how important this space is and that it would be drastic and harmful to Dublin’s development as an attractive and vibrant cultural hub,” has reached over 15,500 signatures.
Mannix Flynn, the Dublin councillor who was voted in via local elections last week reductively and disparagingly said in response to the situation that “a bunch of cool hipsters can think it’s an amazing place. But the level of anti-social behaviour that goes on is incredible, and the noise is appalling.”
I would hope that all parties involved actually engage with each other to find a reasonable solution to the noise issue, as should be Flynn’s role as a councillor, especially in light of Dublin’s severe reduction of cultural venues and spaces like District 8, Hangar and the general prioritisation of homogenous hotels and spaces over necessary cultural and night-life spaces in recent years. Nuanced consideration and dialogue would be more useful than resorting to stereotypes. It is yet again, another example, of social spaces not being recognised as important to the city. Closing things down when there should be space for discussion about the issues affecting residents.
The Beer Garden has been open for over 10 years and helped regenerate the street in that time.
Bodytonic indicate they will file a fresh application in light of the ruling.